Saturday, March 8, 2008

Great Comic Book Ads From The 1950s

I was able to read before I started school, and for that I thank comic books. My parents allowed me to buy as many as I wanted, and were always willing to tell me what a word meant. As I result, I could read at a third grade level on my first day of school.

But it was the ads in those 1950s comic books that have stuck with me in the 50+ years since that golden era. Kids today don't read comics----comics are now the refuge of twentysomething guys without girlfriends-----and the ads are for high-end video games, cars (!!), and similar adult-oriented products. And this is a pity.

Take the ad for the product below. Back in 1958, a teacher seeing a student with this item would simply confiscate it and the student would suffer a few minutes of post-school detention. Not today-----the local S.W.A.T. team would probably be summoned and the incident would be broadcast worldwide on CNN, with Congressional hearings surely to follow:

I was never much into violence, so instead of a hand grenade I preferred to use Mesmerism to get my way, especially when I could buy a neat little aid like this:

One of the leading purveyors of merchandise in 1950s comic books was an outfit called Honor House Products. Look at the full page ad below; how could a six year old boy not fail to be enthralled by the prospect of owning such worldly delights?? I can only conclude that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones must have seen this same ad and ordered that neat ring to the left of the ordering form:

There was a surprising amount of homoerotic imagery in 1950s comics ads. Of course, I never paid any attention to ads like the one below. Nope, not me, pal!

Today's comic books fill unsold ad space with bland public service "ads" exhorting kids to practice tolerance, protect the environment, and similar touchy-feely goop. But five decades ago, we instead received detailed instruction on how to kick the shit out of other kids. I definitely think we had it better back then: